Wheeltug has been working on its e-taxi solution for several years. The company today demonstrated its e-taxi solution today in Memphis, TN. The aircraft used comes from a Spanish airline and is a 737NG. Most of the deals Wheeltug has to date is with Boeing 737 operators.
We had a chance to walk around the aircraft close up and see its various cameras used by the pilots to see everything around the aircraft. There were two cameras as shown in the next image, one between the wing and nose wheel and another behind the wing. These are temporarily installed for the Test Drive. In the production system these cameras will provide the pilots with a 360 degree view of the aircraft and the images will display on their EFB.
Next we see the nose wheel with the temporary wiring and plumbing. We expect the certified and production offering will be better integrated. Wheeltug’s demo system has a bluelight logo which flashed as the system was running. This is clever marketing but also helpful for people standing near the aircraft to be aware the system is live.
The project has clearly been complicated by developing several technologies and then combining them into a system. This image from the aircraft nose provides an idea of how many and which firms are involved in the project. These companies are widely dispersed and we met people from European partners at the event. Getting into and out of the US during the pandemic has not been easy, but the event was sufficiently important that they made the effort.
Finally, we have some video of the aircraft doing its e-taxi. This is followed by a brief chat with the aircraft’s captain talking about the system and how it impacts pilot workload. Finally, we have a quick chat with the Memphis MRO lead on the installation and de-installation process.
In summary, 2020 has provided very few opportunities to attend an aerospace event and we were delighted to be there. This event had a feeling of seeing something special take place. One attendee spoke to your correspondent about his interest in how he could persuade his airline to consider this technology as a time and money saver. Anything that could save his airline money could mean saving jobs, he explained. Clearly a highly sensitive issue now. Another industry veteran, with several decades of experience, told us how he was skeptical at first, but has come around to seeing this solution as offering meaningful advantages to airlines. Another conversation, with a European-based airline consultant, focused on the positive impact this technology would bring to EU airlines that are under pressure to save fuel and improve their environmental impact. These conversations underlined the broad range of advantages attendees see in the e-taxi solution demonstrated by Wheeltug.